Beijing [China], May 31 (ANI): China has said Taiwan's plan to achieve independence through the COVID-19 vaccine "will not succeed" after the island ruled out the possibility of importing Chinese vaccines.
Responding to the reports that Japan is holding talks with AstraZeneca to allow it to send its surplus coronavirus vaccines to Taiwan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said "channels for Taiwan to receive vaccines from China are not blocked."
He then warned that Taiwan's "scheme to achieve independence through vaccines will not succeed," Taiwan News reported.
Japan said on Friday it would consider sharing its COVID-19 vaccines with other countries as a ruling party committee urged it to provide a portion of its AstraZeneca PLC vaccine stock to Taiwan.
This comes a Taiwan faces an urgent need to secure vaccines as it witnessed a dramatic surge in cases.
Japan, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, is apparently looking into providing the vaccine through private companies and organizations to avoid drawing China's ire, Kyodo News reported citing Japanese officials.
Meanwhile, the US government has asked American vaccine manufacturers to prioritise Taiwan as it scrambles to inoculate its people against COVID-19 amid the country's worst outbreak.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed Japan's offer, posting a Twitter message saying she "offers heartfelt appreciation for the deep friendship."
In the message posted in Japanese, Tsai said, "Taiwan-Japan relations show that through cooperation, democratic countries can strengthen each other's governance, similar to how a vaccine can give people immunity."
"I am happy to see that our commitment to coming together to get through difficult times has become stronger than ever before," she added.
Recently, Taiwan directly accused China of blocking a deal with German firm BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccines.
"Taiwan was close to sealing the deal with the German plant, but because of China's intervention, we still cannot sign the contract," the island's President Tsai Ing-wen said in a meeting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades. (ANI)